While reading our food dehydrator reviews article, you’ll see the best food dehydrators shown in our awesome comparison table and review section. We’ve spent a lot of time testing and comparing food dehydrators to make this list.
Food dehydrators are fantastic because they help people – whether they’re families, hunters, or just someone who likes to make their food – save money! The most popular food dehydrator recipes involve jerky and fruit leathers.
There are many other options, but these are the two most popular. Demand for food dehydrators has skyrocketed in the past decade as more people turn to healthier food options. Food preservation awareness has also increased along with the worldwide sustainability effort.
There are several key factors to look for when shopping for a food dehydrator. In this article, you’ll find sections about the whole food dehydration process, the main benefits of dehydrating food, the best food dehydrator selection guide, and in-depth reviews of 8 popular food dehydrators.
Here are the best food dehydrator brands:
- Best Adjustable Food Dehydrator: TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator
- Best Pro Food Dehydrator: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
- Best High Capacity Food Dehydrator: Excalibur Dehydrator EXC10EL
- Best Digital Food Dehydrator: Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Bundle
- Best Standard Food Dehydrator: Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
We’ve also included a handy comparison table below for the best food dehydrators on the market. We regularly update this article – so take comfort in knowing you’re getting the freshest information and the latest products.
Best Food Dehydrator Reviews & Ratings
|#1 - Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator||99%|
|#2 - Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator||98%|
|#3 - Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Bundle||96%|
|#4 - Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator||94%|
|#5 - TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator||92%|
|#6 - Excalibur Dehydrator EXC10EL||90%|
|#7 - Nesco FD-28JX Jerky Xpress Dehydrator Kit||88%|
|#8 - NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine||86%|
You’ve made it to our in-depth food dehydrator reviews section. Below is a detailed look at the most popular units. Competition has increased in the food dehydrator arena as their popularity has increased. This benefits you, the consumer, as prices have substantially decreased!
Recommended Budget Food Dehydrators (Under $100)
This price category has many stackable dehydrators. Lower price means fewer features, but they’ll quickly get the job done.
1. Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
The Snackmaster by Nesco has been among the most popular food dehydrators for years. They’ve to upgrade it, and it is fantastic. I call it old-reliable because it never disappoints. While this is a stackable tray design, the performance is exceptional due to the top-mounted fan. Food is dried thoroughly and evenly. The fan is powerful, 700 watts, which is more than enough for this stacked design.
There are five drying trays on the Snackmaster. However, you can expand up to 12, yes, 12 trays. There are sold separately as “Add-A-Trays.” One of the things they’ve added is an adjustable thermostat that has a range of 95 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit. I like how this Nesco model comes with a reference labeling system, so you know the optimal drying temperature for foods when using this specific model. It’s a charming touch.
This unit is perfect for you if you’re a beginner or intermediate food dryer. It’s a great value, and you get a ton of bonus items like two mesh sheets, two solid sheets, three jerky spice packets, AND a recipe book. This is all you need to get started with your food drying!
- Dimensions: 13”H x 13”W x 10”D
- Weight: 6.8lbs
- Material: BPA-Free Plastic
- Trays: 5 (expandable to 12)
2. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
If you’re starting with food dehydration and want to keep costs to a minimum, this is the dehydrator. Being a budget unit, you get what you pay for, so this dehydrator lacks a thermostat and a timer. Food drying with this dehydrator is at a default of 155 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll need to check on it periodically to ensure that certain foods aren’t left dry for too long.
But this unit does get the job done. With this equipment, you can quickly dry vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and jerky. Four trays are included, with the option to expand up to 8. The unit has a bottom-mounted fan that uses 600 watts. Finally, there’s a handy see-through cover at the top of the unit so you can see your food drying.
We like how this Presto has a lot of helpful expansion kits available. This is great if you get into food dehydration and want to expand by adding more trays, nonstick mesh screens, and jerky kits.
- Dimensions: 15”H x 6.5”W x 14.8”D
- Weight: 7.5lbs
- Material: Plastic
- Trays: 4 (expandable to 8)
3. Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Bundle
Magic Mill has been a recognized name in food dehydration for many years. This unit is one of its value models. It’s not going to handle large loads like dehydrators with 12+ trays, but its nine-tray design is more than enough for more peoples’ needs. It comes with nine shelf trays out of the box, a 12 12-square-footing chamber, a handy adjustable thermostat, and a built-in timer. The trays can easily be removed and washed (really, really easily).
While this unit has a rear-mounted 600-watt fan, it’s more than enough for this size. By placing the fan at the back of the chamber, food will dry evenly and thoroughly. This unit can support up to 19.5 hours of drying time – which is more than enough for most meats, vegetables, and fruits. The automatic thermostat ranges from 95 – 158 degrees Fahrenheit and has an auto-shutoff mechanism if it gets too hot.
This bundle includes one fine mesh sheet, two fruit leather trays, 1 set of oven mitts (you can never have too many oven mitts), and a nice little recipe book. Oh, and this machine is BPA-free!
- Dimensions: 18.7″H x 17.5″W x 14.8″D
- Weight: 21.9lbs
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Trays: 9
4. Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator
Stop: Get this one if you’re still unsure about which food dehydrator to buy. It’s perfect for everyone. Here’s why:
You probably know about Excalibur Food Dehydrators if you have even the slightest bit of food drying experience. They are the Cadillac of the food dehydrator world. They claim they manufacture “America’s best Dehydrator,” and you know what? It’s hard to disagree with them. They’ve been manufacturing dehydrators for well over 30 years right here in the U.S.A.
The Excalibur 3926TB has nine trays! This is a fantastic solution for food dehydration if you want to do huge batches. I like to call it the common person’s heavy-duty dehydration machine. It’s simple enough to use that anyone can use it easily but heavy-duty enough that it can handle anything you throw at it. Remember, we’re dealing with the best here. If you’re serious about food dehydrating, you should get an Excalibur.
Remember whom we’re dealing with, Excalibur Dehydrators, the manufacturer of some of the best food dehydrators. They know what they’re doing. You’ll consistently have great drying results with this model. Need more proof? The Excalibur can dry 8 pounds of jerky in a mere 5 hours. Similar models from other manufacturers average, at best, 4 pounds per 4 hours. It’s almost twice as fast and uses less energy!
Remember how we said Excalibur believes in its products? Well, this model has a very-lengthy 10-year warranty. The chamber is a massive 15 square feet and is a shelf tray design.
This model has Excalibur’s patented ‘Hyperwave Fluctuation Technology.’ Combined with their patented ‘Parallex Horizontal Airflow Design,’ food is heated evenly by keeping the food temperature low and the air temperature high. What’s this mean for you? Food enzymes will stay active, while harmful bacteria, mold, and yeast will die cruelly.
There’s a built-in self-timer that can be set up to 26 hours. A model of this caliber will have an adjustable thermostat (in this case, the range is 105 – 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re serious about food dehydrating, or just want to make large batches of food for your large family, or are a hunter who wants to dry out their game, this model is for you.
- Dimensions: 12.5”H x 17”W x 19”D
- Weight: 22lbs
- Material: Plastic
- Trays: 9
5. TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator
Want a unit that’s going to last forever (and look great in your stainless steel kitchen)? Then TSM’s Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator is right for you.
Stainless steel isn’t just rust-resistant; the whole product is also corrosion-resistant. This means that it’s going to last no matter what you do. When it comes to a food dehydrator, you pay an added premium for stainless steel. Why? Because every single rack in the unit is crafted from solid stainless steel.
The TSM Food Dehydrator has a whopping 800-watt heating element and fan. This is paired with an adjustable thermostat and five wide shelves. Everything is removable and super easy to clean. Even the inner chamber is very easy to clean because of the removable back panel. This unit has nine air vents, which easily allow moisture from the food to escape when dehydrating.
- Dimensions: 11.5”H x 16.75”W x 19.25”D
- Weight: 20lbs
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Trays: 5
6. Excalibur Dehydrator EXC10EL
If you’re a residential user, then Excalibur’s giant dehydrator is ridiculous for you. You should not buy this model unless you’re a huge family or an avid hunter – if that’s the case, then a commercial-grade option is good for you. Is this the right food dehydrator model for most people? Not, but it’s still really, really cool.
This beast has 600 watts and four heating elements that can suck the moisture out of the beefiest meat. This giant unit weighs 110 pounds, so you probably won’t be putting it on your kitchen counter. This dehydrator would be great in the garage or barn. Commercial pricing includes a very user-friendly digital touchscreen, 3-speed motor, stainless steel body and shelves, and beautiful craftsmanship. Add it all together, and you can see why Excalibur priced this model the way it is. For around a thousand dollars, this is out of the range of most residential families but is very well-priced for those who need commercial-grade dehydrated food production.
Best Dehydrators for Making Beef Jerky
Jerky is awesome. It’s the reason I even got into dehydrating foods in the first place. Because every model we’ve mentioned is slightly different, we recommend you start making your jerky in small batches to see what works best. Dehydrating beef jerky is harder than fruits and vegetables. But practice makes perfect, and it won’t be long until you make your own for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store.
I also recommend you try different kinds of meat. Elk and Deer are fantastic (and leaner and healthier) than the more popular Beef jerkies. These kinds of jerky will impress your friends and make great gifts. A meat dehydrator for jerky can easily handle most meat quickly, allowing easy preservation and packaging.
Some dehydrators are made explicitly for dehydrating beef jerky. Finding the beef jerky dehydrator and jerky maker that’s right for you might help you learn how to create multiple kinds of dried foods at once.
7. Nesco FD-28JX Jerky Xpress Dehydrator Kit
Do you want a package deal that includes a beef jerky maker and a gun? Nesco has the perfect product for you. If you’re unfamiliar, Nesco is a massive name in the meat dehydrator business. They were the ones who created a dehydrator that is made specifically for making homemade beef jerky. This includes helpful spice, cure packets, and their infamous jerky gun for ground meats. You’ll save money by not having to purchase these separately.
The Nesco dehydrator model doesn’t require tray rotation for your jerky to cook evenly. Since it’s a fixed-temperature unit, you’ll get consistent results every time. Make sure you use the included jerky gun to ensure this.
8. NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine
You’ll be able to quickly make some amazing snacks with this dehydrator for beef jerky. It’s been specifically made for meat dehydration.
There are five high-capacity rotating trays. Also, it has a two-vent system that’s great for home or camping use. Because of its small size, it works well with any meat you can catch during hunting or fishing season.
It’s inexpensive, so it’s an excellent gift for jerky lovers.
We confidently say this is the best beef jerky dehydrator for beginners.
What is a Food Dehydrator? How Does it Work?
We should start by explaining the basics of food dehydrators to newcomers. For those of you that are experienced in dehydrating food, you may want to skip this section.
Food dehydration works by removing water content from food, thus drying the food out. Food dehydrators are handy tools that can help you get the job done much easier (and faster!). Because their popularity has increased, food dehydrators have become much more compact and efficient.
We know counter-space is a premium – rest assured, you won’t use much with the models we recommend later in this article. The average food dehydrator is roughly 11 inches in diameter (about the size of a rice cooker or small crockpot). Typical dehydrators have a chamber that has anywhere between 5 and 10 trays. There are two main categories of food dehydrators: stackable, rounder units that are made of plastic, and removable, which are trays constructed within a rigid box.
Food dehydrators use fans to slowly circulate hot, dry hair (think Arizona heat) through food items. The heated air flows through the various layers of food and dries out the food very evenly. This will provide you with more consistent results than if you put the food on a flat rock in the sun.
The air is either circulated horizontally or vertically, depending on your model. Horizontal drying dehydrators often perform better than vertical, aka stackable food dehydrators. When there’s uneven heat distribution, the trays closest to the heating element will dry out much faster than those at the top. You can overcome this with diligent tray rotation.
This can be unpleasant and is also why horizontal dehydrators usually have a slightly higher price than stackable dehydrators.
This fantastic specialty appliance is highly efficient compared to an oven – in time and energy. Dehydrators use a comparatively low temperature to dry food. This keeps the enzymes of your raw food within the preserved food while removing additives and preservatives. This is why food dehydration is considered highly healthy – it preserves nutrients.
Ovens are notorious for being difficult to control their temperature throughout the cooking process. A food dehydrator allows you to control the temperature with much greater precision than an oven. Most newer dehydrators have an adjustable thermostat that accurately controls the temperature. This is a super important factor to ensure proper dehydration at lower temperatures. Dehydrating food at lower temperatures is best because it has been scientifically proven to preserve more vitamins and minerals.
Top 8 Benefits of Food Dehydrators
Here are the top benefits of owning your food dehydrator.
You often hear that dehydrated food only lasts one year, but we’ve easily been able to keep food for over two years. Sure, you don’t want to keep food that long, but if it happens, you can rest assured that your food won’t spoil. Scientific studies have shown that some dehydrated food, such as veggies, rice, and grains, can be stored for up to 25 years.
#2 Produce Healthy Food
This is probably the reason most people are attracted to food drying. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables don’t need additional preservatives (sugar and salt). Plus, you still retain the majority of vitamins and nutrients. You’ll save a ton of cash on healthy food!
#3 Food Transparency
Food transparency means that you will know what’s in your food. Yes, nutrition labels are becoming more robust. However, you never know what’s actually in your preserved food. Also, as opposed to canned food, you’ll know when your preserved food has spoiled simply by looking at it.
#4 Creating Delicious Food
With Pinterest, SeriousEats, and other recipe sites, many delicious dehydrating recipes are available online with your food dehydrator. Some popular dehydrator possibilities are kale chips, veggie burgers, and cake! Remember, you can encourage your kids to consume healthier food if you dehydrate their favorite foods.
#5 Versatile Results
You can always rehydrate your recently made dry vegetables, herbs, and fruits. There are so many creative ways to use your dehydrator!
You don’t need to be an expert in the kitchen to use a dehydrator. Food preparation is so easy with a food dehydrator that you’ll unlikely over-dry your food.
For a specialty appliance, dehydrators aren’t overly priced – at all. The ones we recommend are usually in the $60 range, but there are options for professional models that are a bit more expensive. If you don’t know how much you’ll use it, start with an inexpensive option.
#8 Space Efficient
Shrinking food takes up less space. You’ll have much more pantry space when you start drying your food.
Best Food Dehydrator Buying Guide
While functionality is pretty much the same with any food dehydrator, there are essential features that you need to look for that separate one from another. The most important thing is their ability to dry food evenly. Here are some other features to look for:
Number of Trays: Most food dehydrator units have between 5 and 10 trays. If you plan on doing plenty of dehydrating, you will want to go bigger. We prefer ones that are dishwasher-safe.
Max Trays: Stackable dehydrators have the benefit of being expandable. An example is the Presto 06300, which comes with four trays but can expand up to 8 trays. This is a nice feature if you want to start small and expand.
Design: As we mentioned, whether the dehydrator you choose uses stackable or alternative shelf trays is critical. We recommend shelf-tray food dehydrators. You’ll have a much more even flow of heat with the horizontal airflow. With that said, plenty of excellent stackable tray dehydrators can quickly dry food evenly. (Note: you don’t have to worry if you choose one of our recommendations below)
Power: Units range from 125 to 1100 watts. Typically, larger units require more power to keep up even temperature distribution. Your best bet is to go with a unit that can hit 160 degrees Fahrenheit, although you’d probably be okay with 130 degrees.
Extras: More expensive models come with more features. These include digital thermometers, automatic timers, inside lighting, specialty items like jerky guns, and (excellent) nonstick mats. Dehydrator deals will sometimes include recipe books.
How to use your best food dehydrator?
Now that you’ve purchased your brand-new food dehydrator, we’ll tell you a few easy steps to best use it.
- Arrange raw material on the trays so that it doesn’t overlap
- Set the temperature to 104ºF so your food dries out completely
- Rotate the trays every time you check on your food. We recommend doing this at irregular intervals of time. This way, you can also see how consistent your dehydrator’s temperature setting is. Remember that most fruits and veggies take between 2 and 19 hours to dry thoroughly. You can quickly check to see if it’s dried by cutting it into slices. If there’s no moisture drop, then your food is dry.
- Remove your food and let it cool.
- Once fully cooled, store your dried food in an airtight container in a dark, dry place. If moisture appears in the container, put your food back in the dehydrator for a couple of hours.
- The best dehydrators need proper air circulation and ventilation. Ensure that there’s nothing obstructing airflow.
- Do not overlap your food.
- Keep sweet and sour foods separate. There are sometimes flavors transferred between foods when dehydrated together. Please do not place any food with mold on it into the dehydrator.
- Rotate your trays while the food is drying for an enhanced effect
- There’s a big difference between commercial and home dehydrators. You won’t be able to make spices such as onion or garlic powder in a small home food dehydrator.
- If you’re going to be drying stinky food like garlic or ginger, place the dehydrator somewhere where it’s isolated, like the garage or basement. (Here are some great garlic presses for you! Avoid drying out food high in fats if you’re looking to store the food afterward. High-fat foods generally have a low shelf life.
- Slow and steady is better. Do not raise the temperature to shorten the drying process.